Officials pushing to keep Linden clinic operational

Published on Monday, 31 March 2014 14:06 - Written by

LINDEN (MCT) — Officials in Linden are making a concerted effort to keep a doctors’ clinic open under new management after Good Shepherd Medical Center announced in February it would close at the end of April.

“We feel pretty good about being able to do it,” Linden Mayor Clarence Burns said this past week. “It is very important to our community.”

No agreements have been finalized, but Burns said he was confident a deal would be done by the time Good Shepherd is set to close the clinic April 30.

The city is in negotiations with two firms, he said, and one of them is particularly promising. Burns declined to identify the firms that are exploring taking over the clinic.

Along with the clinic in Linden, a Good Shepherd Medical Associates Family Health Center clinic in Hughes Springs also is set to close at the end of April.

Good Shepherd officials said last month the hospital was closing after amassing more than $12 million in losses in the nine years it has been owned by GSMC. The average daily patient census has been fewer than five, and average emergency room visits have been fewer than one patient per hour, Good Shepherd said.

“We understand about the hospital and the financial aspect of it,” Burns said. “But the clinic has a large patient load, and we feel it is very viable.”

Wednesday afternoon, the parking lot of the clinic was almost full, and a reporter found standing room only inside.

Burns said the need for the clinic to remain is obvious, citing the distances from Linden to other significant hospitals in East Texas.

A rehabilitation clinic attached to the hospital also is set to close in Linden, and a private pharmacy adjacent to the clinic also is planned to shut down.

“We would like to try to keep open the rehabilitation clinic,” Burns said. “It has offered wonderful service. I know some of those people have found other jobs already, but perhaps they could be coaxed back.”

Burns praised GSMC officials for their assistance in helping them work for options with the clinic and the rehabilitation center.

“We met with Good Shepherd, and they have been really nice and helpful,” he said. “We appreciate everything they have done for us.”

If the hospital, clinic and rehabilitation center close, about 100 jobs would be affected. Those workers are eligible to apply for jobs within the GSMC system, but its chief executive has said there are not that many opportunities available across the system.

Good Shepherd also operates medical centers in Longview and Marshall, and has clinics and other operations across the region. But it has been making a variety of moves in recent weeks to reduce operating losses, including closures and layoffs across the system.